The Future of Merchant Processing Technology

Merchant Processing Technology has evolved significantly over the past few decades. Beginning in 1970 with the replacement of paper-based processes with centralized electronic authorization up until today’s smartphone technology. The market has become practically unrecognizable in comparison to its 1970s roots, which begs the question: where will the future of merchant processing take us?

Current Technology

With the advent of digital technology in full swing, merchant processing technology is focusing on how to take mobile payments to the next level. Wireless payment applications are becoming increasingly popular, paving the way for modern marketing techniques that are able to lock in on specific consumers at specific locations and times. Once a customer makes a purchase, their purchase information is recorded as background for future marketing tactics.

NFC Technology

For years, credit card manufacturers looked for a more secure method of payment than the standard swipe of the magnetic strip at the terminal. Technology’s answer: NFC chip technology. NFC payment chips and their corresponding terminals have proven to be a much more secure method of payment for most users, helping consumers avoid today’s most common forms of credit card theft. While the number of merchant users is still on the smaller side, iPhone’s Apply Pay and Google Wallet have set out to change that.

The Near Future

Merchant processors are looking to lock in on users of prepaid credit and debit cards within the near future. Since these particular sectors are experiencing widespread growth, there is no doubt a pretty penny involved in tapping into their electronic buying potential. Many processors also promise an evolution when it comes to data security, managing the treat of fraud that seems to be ever more prevalent in our mobile-based society. This will likely mean a growth in chip and pin-based technologies.

While the future of merchant processing is still up in the air, it remains certain that the industry will see tremendous growth in the coming years. With the technology in place for substantial advancements, it’s only a matter of time before we see the benefits of increased mobilization and digital payment processes. The only question now is who will be the first to present it to the world?

For more information on merchant payment processing and how to take advantage of it in your own small business, contact Vision Payments today.

The EMV Smart Card Reader from Vision Payment Solutions

Are the credit card payment terminals in your business EMV-compliant? If you don’t know, or if your machines are more than a few years old, your business may be among the estimated 40% of US retailers who will end 2015 with their businesses exposed to liability for fraudulent credit card purchases. This year, the USA finally began to catch up with the way most other countries around the world combat credit card fraud: EMV technology. This well-tested technology has been available for more than three decades, and EMV-chipped credit cards have been the standard in Europe and around the world for many years. The EMV chip implanted in the credit card generates a unique code for each transaction, making it virtually impossible for criminals to duplicate the card—something that is fairly simple with the magnetic strip cards prevalent in the United States.

How does this change affect merchants? Card issuers are in the process of upgrading over a billion credit cards to EMV smart cards, with debit cards to follow as software changes are implemented by banks. Along with this rollout, a new law took effect in October, shifting the liability for fraudulent credit card transactions from banks to the merchants who process the transaction. This only affects merchants who accept EMV credit cards without using EMV credit card machines, which are essential to ensuring the EMV chip protects the transaction. Don’t leave your business exposed to liability. Vision Payment Solutions has the EMV payment processing equipment you need to meet these new standards for POS sales, and we offer leasing and other funding options to help you upgrade. We also offer secure virtual payment gateways to help protect against card fraud with online sales. Contact us today to protect yourself, and your customers, with up-to-date technology.

Vision Payment Solutions

1. The USA is finally catching up! Europe has used credit card chip technology for over 10 years to combat credit card fraud, along with most of the other countries around the world.
2. The credit card chip is called EMV, an acronym for “Europay, MasterCard, Visa”.
3. As of October 2015, businesses must have payment processing equipment capable of reading EMV credit cards, or they face liability for any fraudulent EMV card transactions they run.
4. Prior to October 2015, fraudulent credit card transactions have been absorbed by banks. The “liability shift” that happens in October means that the liability shifts to businesses if they don’t have EMV card readers.
5. EMV chip cards are no longer swiped like magnetic strip cards. They are inserted into the business’s card reader and stay in place while the chip on the card communicates with the reader, until the transaction is complete.
6. Many credit card issuers haven’t replaced their standard magnetic strip cards with EMV technology yet.
7. Some EMV credit cards also require a signature, others require a PIN. The Chip & PIN version is the most popular type in Europe.
8. Many EMV chip cards have a magnetic strip that can be swiped in older payment systems, but merchants using those systems expose themselves to liability as of October 2015.
9. The EMV chip technology is well tested. It has been available for over 30 years.
10. The USA is the source of 25% of the world’s credit card transactions but nearly half of the credit card fraud.
11. Online retailers will need to step up security measures. Online credit card fraud is expected to surge after EMV credit cards become the US standard.
12. In 2013, global credit card fraud grew to $14 billion. The US portion of that cost had jumped nearly 30%.
13. EMV chip technology not only helps prevent fraud at the point of payment, it helps ensure consumer credit card data is not at risk in the case of a merchant breach.
14. The EMV chip generates a unique code for each transaction that cannot be used again, making it virtually impossible for criminals to duplicate the credit card.
15. Many EMV credit cards also support near field communication, or contactless, card reading, where the card is tapped against the payment reader.
16. Over a billion credit cards in the USA must be upgraded to EMV chip cards.
17. It costs credit card issuers approximately $3.50 to issue an EMV card to replace a magnetic strip card.
18. An estimated 12 million card readers and payment terminals will have to be upgraded to protect US merchants from the liability shift.
19. Over 40% of US retailers are expected to remain noncompliant with the change to EMV card reading technology by the end of 2015, exposing themselves to fraud liability.
20. The required upgrade to EMV payment terminals for automated fuel pumps, and the attached liability shift to the merchant, has been delayed to 2017.
21. Debit cards in the US will also be upgraded to EMV chip technology, but the rollout is expected to take longer due to software changes that must also be implemented by banks.
22. US cardholders may be unpleasantly surprised when traveling abroad with their EMV credit card. Many cards are being issued with the EMV Chip & Signature technology, which won’t work at automated payment kiosks in other countries that require a Chip & PIN card.

Merchant Processing Security Tips

While the rest of the US economy has seen its highs and lows over the past decade, the growth of the ecommerce sector has seen almost nothing but robust growth. According to statistics, more than $300 billion was spent on web sales in the year 2014, up more than 15% from the $264 billion spent in 2013. And it shows no signs of slowing down.

With the growth in credit card use comes the increased threat of identity theft, credit card fraud, and phishing scams. While there is no foolproof method for preventing these attacks, both consumers and credit card merchant services can take calculated measures to prevent the risk of credit card misuse. Here’s what the experts recommend to avoid falling victim to today’s biggest threats:

1. Research

As most security experts point out, knowing about potential security threats is half the battle. By familiarizing themselves with the potential risks when accepting credit cards, especially when it comes to their specific type of credit card merchant account, business owners can take the steps necessary to protect their consumers (and their profits) from the ever-growing threats that surround merchant processing.

2. Communicate

Communication between customers and credit card merchants is key when it comes to security. Keep your customers in the loop about your security methods and ask for their compliance. Emphasizing privacy rules and PCI standards will help to build consumer trust in the long run. Consider beginning a security campaign to educate customers about the measures required to keep their identities safe. Use texts, emails, and phone calls to better facilitate communication.

3. Record

Vigilance is key when trying to counteract security threats to your business. Security threats are constantly evolving, but there are simple methods merchants can used to counteract even the most sophisticated of attacks. By keeping thorough records and securing all of your data with password protection, you can insure your profits against potential threats. While setting up a security system is important, vigilance in maintaining records and updating your security is crucial to your success in protecting your credit card merchant account.

4. Collaborate

One of the easiest ways to ensure you don’t fall victim to credit card fraud and other threats is to work with credit card companies themselves. Many credit card companies offer fraud-protection services, which can go a long way in providing your customers with peace of mind and protecting your business. If you’ve just started accepting credit cards, make sure that your business is certified as PCI compliant, and always maintain your compliance moving forward.

With the advent of digital commerce in full swing, accepting credit cards is a must in terms of company growth. With a few extra precautions, you can protect your business from today’s most common threats and help your business see the growth it deserves.

What to Look for in a Merchant Processor

There are a lot of credit card processing services out there, and they would love to have your business. With thousands of options available, how do you choose the one that’s right for you and your company? It can be difficult, especially for new business owners, to know what to look for when choosing a credit card payment processing provider, but we have some suggestions for narrowing down the candidates.

Price is what most business owners compare first when considering credit card processing systems. The rates and fees can be tricky to compare between providers. You have setup fees, monthly fees, and transaction rates to consider, all of which can vary widely. Unfortunately, one of the most common issues in the payment processing industry is hidden fees, which are typically much higher than the usual rates. These fees are typically applied to “non-qualified” transactions. You need to know what the merchant processor considers “non-qualified” in order to know if this is a rate that will affect your particular business. Also, pay attention to the fine print if you’re offered an outstanding rate, because it may come with restrictions and limitations. Find out how long that rate is good for and if it is limited to certain transactions. What does the rate revert to later? Even a small portion of a percentage point can make a big difference in your bottom line, so be thorough.

When you like a processor’s rates, find out what you get in return for payment. Choosing an ecommerce credit card processing service is about more than simply the cards you can accept. How good is their security? Are they PCI-compliant and can they properly process EMV cards? Will the provider’s internet credit card processing solutions work with your online storefront? Can you get support easily when you need it? This is vital if the provider is located in another part of the country or if you have online sales that may occur on any day, at any hour.

If you choose a merchant processor, are you getting a full-service provider or will you have to use others to create a complete payment solution for your business? Can they handle every type of payment you wish to accept, from credit and debit cards to gift cards and checks? If you have brick-and-mortar and virtual storefronts, do they offer solutions and equipment for point-of-sale transactions as well as online and mobile credit card processing?

Who are their clients? Can you talk to others who use them to get a feel for how they do business? Even with recommendations from other merchants, use due diligence and research processors before signing up. Investigate them through such means as checking reviews and examining their Better Business Bureau data.

Look for a low cost credit card processing provider that is upfront about their fees and rates and who offers a full range of solutions to handle all your payment processing needs. Look for a company that has been in business for at least several years and has a proven track record. Finally, when you are ready to go with a merchant payment processor, start with a short-term contract. This gives you flexibility if you’re not completely satisfied with their service. Once you’ve worked with them and are happy with the results, then go for a longer term relationship.

Is Your Small Business Prepared for Credit Card Changes in 2015?

In 2015, the credit card game is going to change. In the United States, we will see the long-awaited adoption of “chip and PIN” credit cards. With this new change, businesses will need to understand the technology behind the switch to better assist their customers. This includes integrating new software as well as purchasing credit card terminals that can accept the new credit cards. Although it may seem like a lot of changes, retailers and businesses that stay up-to-date on the latest technology will be better able to serve their customers. Better customer service means more return customers and a better ROI. From small businesses to large enterprises, it is important for your business to be ready to address these new credit card changes.

What is a chip and PIN card?

A chip and PIN card is different from regular credit card in that a client’s personal information will now be held safe in a microchip rather than contained in the card’s magnetic strip. This new card encodes customer’s information and makes it even harder for thieves to steal valuable information and/or commit fraud. This means that consumers can rest easy knowing that their card information is kept safer than ever before.

Know the Deadline

Merchants must make the switch to upgraded credit card terminals that are chip and PIN compliant by October 1st. Any business experiencing credit card fraud that has not upgraded to the newer software after that point in time could be heal responsible and will be forced to pay the fraudulent charges made on the card.

Making the Switch

While it may seem somewhat difficult to switch your software, you’ll be grateful that you did so. Make sure that you take these three points into consideration when looking to upgrade your equipment.

  • Research. Find out what you can about upgrading your current terminals. Each industry has its own unique set of challenges; make sure that you understand what different options are available to you.
  • Incentives. Credit card companies are offering incentives to make the switch. American Express is extending $100 towards terminal upgrades (for merchants that make less than $3 million in payment volume)
  • Do it now. Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure that your equipment and software is up-to-date. With so many steps in the process, the switch could take longer than anticipated, and you might have to deal with paying fines.

By making the big switch, your business will have access to more advanced security measures and, in the end, will be subject to less credit card fraud.

If you have any questions about making the big switch, contact the professionals at Vision Payment Solutions.

Big credit card changes coming soon to your wallet

Credit cards and card payment terminals are going to undergo a major change in the near future, thanks to a group being formed by Visa and Mastercard aimed at increasing security in the retail and banking industries in light of the recent breaches at Target and other retailers.


This new group will include bankers and retailers, security experts, and makers of card payment terminals, and will focus on increasing security, partially through the embedding of special security chips into credit cards, and a move away from magnetic strips. These chips have been used across the world outside of the United States for many years. For now, the chips are optional, but new liability regulations will impose severe penalties for those who don’t use them next year, a move which it is believed will make them all but compulsory.


The cards themselves are not the only aspect of the new payment structure that is undergoing changes. New card payment terminals, too, are being installed at retailers across the country which will include mobile payment machines at restaurants, which will be brought to the table so that customers can swipe their own cards. Drive Thru stations at fast food restaurants will also see new card readers installed outside the window, so that customers will swipe their own card. All of this is a push to remove the handling of credit cards by anyone but the card’s owner.


It is also possible that in the future, credit cards will require the use of a PIN, similar to ATM or debit transactions.


All of these moves are an intense effort by the new group to increase the security surrounding credit card transactions and it is hoped that the new cards, new card payment terminals, and other new forthcoming security measures will help to prevent future incidents like the retail breaches that happened in 4Q of 2013.



What is a Virtual Terminal?

Tablets and smartphones are ubiquitous in this day and age, but they have yet to completely inch out computers, and laptops still hold many advantages over mobile devices. This is even true in the case of business management, where the computer often has far more storage and power to process databases, inventory tracking, and the like. It only makes sense that one should be able to use a computer to accept credit card payments.


Virtual terminal merchant services are a Web- or cloud-based version of physical credit card point of sale (POS) machines. They allow a vendor to input credit card information into payment forms on a computer, which then can be used to process an electronic transaction such as a mobile payment. It is similar to the types of forms you might see on a mobile commerce site like Ebay or Amazon.


In the past, mobile payments would be processed using a phone to call in to a processor for gaining transaction approval. In the modern era, virtual terminal merchant services are used to instantly approve transactions over the web. Sometimes these services are done via manual entry, exactly like would be done when making an online service. More common, however, are systems that use a credit card reader that plugs into the computer, either via the charger, headphone jack, or via a USB port.


The downside of virtual terminal merchant services is that as of yet many cannot accept signatures from the client. This is in contrast to mobile processing services on a handheld device, which usually take a signature via the touch screen. However, with more and more computers these days featuring touchscreen technology, this may be rectified sooner rather than later. For now, the user simply uses a checkbox or similar functionality to agree to use a typed name as a virtual signature.


The technology is advancing, but with full computers incorporating technology pioneered by handheld devices, it seems likely that virtual terminal merchant services will continue to advance and could become the ideal means of managing one’s business in the near future.

U.S. Lawmakers Call for Data Protection Standards to Avoid Breaches

In light of the recent mass data breaches at retailers across the country, which have resulted in more than 40 million credit cards being stolen, cloned, and sold through the deep web, many lawmakers are demanding that the U.S. Congress stand up and mandate the adoption of card payment solutions and security standards to stop this sort of thing from ever happening in the future.


Among those demanding the new standards is Georgia Democrat representative David Scott, who believes that Congress needs to look at the new security measures that are already being used in other countries, like the smart card payment solutions that do away with a magnetic strip in favor of a chip embedded in the card.


The magnetic strip currently featured on credit cards, he believes, is an easy and open door for unscrupulous hackers, since the technology is, at this point, practically ancient, certainly obsolete, and thereby easy to crack. The EMV smart card payment solutions would not only better encrypt data but would add an additional line of protection in the form of a required PIN entry at the point of sale.


Scott believes that Congress is anxious to take action against future hacks in the future. But others don’t believe that it is Congress’ place to mandate the use of specific technologies.  It has been noted that Visa, MasterCard, and other credit card vendors have already announced plans to shift to smartcards by the end of 2015 without legislation in place. While some lawmakers want to create a new national data breach notification law that would supersede the over 45 state laws currently in place, others have pointed out that Congress shouldn’t have the right to override tougher state laws.


There is a strong voice for private industry to create and implement new security standards for card payment solutions, without further interference from a Congress acting out of fear and panic.

Social Media Gives Insight to Mobile Payment Processing Trend

According to the second annual MasterCard Mobile Payments study, there have been roughly 13 million conversations about mobile payments on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere. Virtual terminal credit cards and similar mobile payments carry an 88% positive rating amongst business owners and merchants across the web, with the predominant attitude being that businesses that don’t accept mobile payments are going to find themselves at a distinct disadvantage in the not-too-distant future.


The results reflect a staggering amount of interest in mobile payments not just from business owners, but from consumers as well. Interestingly, the vast majority (90%) of these conversations were initiated and driven by business owners who have already implemented virtual terminal credit cards or other forms of mobile payments answering questions from smaller and newer businesses seeking advice about what they should adopt in the marketplace.


These conversations are indicative not just of a trend or new fad—they are the beginning of a new movement. The patterns of behavior when making purchases are shifting and evolving, and it’s becoming necessary for merchants to be able to accept payments on the go. E-payments, mobile credit card readers, and similar options are cost-effective and easy to use, and don’t tie merchants down to a single location as did the bulky systems of the past.


It’s only natural that this new movement would have begun, and will continue to be reflected, via social media, which is the new language of communication in the modern era. With the ability to transform a basic mobile device like a smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer into a high-powered, portable and secure virtual terminal, credit cards and debit cards are likewise becoming the currency of choice in the modern era. Nobody is asking anymore if using a mobile processing solution is a good idea. Rather, they’re taking to social media sites to ask how they can adopt this technology, and what it can do for their business.